Learning Styles in an Online Educational Enviornment

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Every student is different. Unfortunately, some teachers and administrators don’t agree or choose not to recognize this. It’s much simpler to say “buy the book” and attach some powerpoints that the book publisher made then to build an online interactive class themselves. For those who need to actively engage in work to understand and retain it, classes such as this are useless. Some students need to do more than read a textbook to gain major concepts, especially if they are complex. This is heightened even more for subjects that require physical work to be done, not necessarily just classes that require a lot of reading. Math and science courses for example, usually include a heavy amount of work that requires students to answer problems. Online courses eliminate the ability of teachers to be able to see a path a student takes to answer a problem incorrectly, essentially making it harder for them to create a better example with a learning style that more accurately helps the individual student.

Visual learners tend to do better on their work if there is video involved in online course materials. Learners that need interpersonal interaction usually require some type of interaction with other students for greatest comprehension. If I am a student paying $800+ for a course that requires me to simply, read a book, what is the point of taking the course? Especially if the course doesn’t relate to the way I learn. Most physical classes use many different media sources without necessarily trying. Online courses definitely need to go the extra mile to be sure different learning styles are met, however, since students pay more for online courses even though they don’t use anything but their own computer and books, it’s expected that professors make a matched effort to create a suitable learning environment for all students.

According to the 2014 Learning in America Survey, most students feel as if they need that interactive experience to thrive in their classes. It concluded that more than 50% of the students surveyed felt as though hands-on training, interactivity, and engagement is what could make a difference in grades and success rates.

There are the few online classes that try to include as many different types of learning tools as possible, but they are far and few between. The classes that do achieve this tend to use tools such as video lectures and demonstrations, videos, pictures, blogs, gifs, and whatever else they can find that allows them to get their message across to their wide variety of students.

I’ve had the pleasure of being in a highly active online class (New Communications Technology) but I’ve had the displeasure of being in terrible online classes as well. Unfortunately, all it takes is one to ruin it for everyone. Curious if an online class is right for you? Don’t hesitate to reach out to an advisor or the instructor and ask what kind of teaching methods are planning to be used for the semester. Check out the photo above to learn more about your learning style (ha.) and be sure to take this quiz!

Ana María Delgado García and Rafael Oliver Cuello

Educational Technology Research and Development
Vol. 58, No. 6 (December 2010) , pp. 781-790

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